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Excavations at Capharnaum 2002

The 22.nd season of excavations at Capernaum near the Sea of Galilee (Israel) was sponsored by the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land and by the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum of Jerusalem. It took place in 2002 from May 27 to June 22, and from August 5 to October 5.

The director Stanislao Loffreda was flanked by Marian Arndt, Giovanni Loche, Stefano De Luca, Luana Spadano, and Ioannes Switzer. The hired workmen came from Rame, an Arab town of Upper Galilee.

We concentrated our work on Area 3, on the East side of the Insula Sacra (where in 1968 the traditional house of Simon Peter was identified). Two main strata were exposed, namely the Medieval and the Byzantine strata: these levels cover nine centuries of history between the fifth and the thirteenth centuries AD. No attempt was made to dig deeper to reach the earlier strata of the town, except in one point where we encountered first century AD remains.

The Medieval stratum is particularly important because substantial remains of the Mameluk period are preserved in this area.

No less important is the Byzantine layout of the town. Area 3 is in fact clearly delimited by three streets, i.e. by the cardo on the West side, by the alley L207 on the North side, and by the alley 89 on the East side. This unique layout will help us greatly to determine several units, i.e. houses, as soon as the area will be fully excavated next year. But even at this point of our research we have been able to follow a house the rooms of which span from the cardo to alley L89.

North of area 3 we continued excavating building L270, which served as a public olive press for the community of Capernaum in the late Byzantine period.
Among the most important finds we mention two limestone-cornices of the monumental synagogue and a basalt stone slab with a menorah (Jewish candelabrum): they were reused in the Mameluk period as slabs of a pavement. We also found several restorable jars, a mold for casting lamps, and an amulet with Greek inscriptions of religious character.

Stanislao Loffreda SBF

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